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Universities help students with anxiety deal with tests
ing evaluated,” Walker said. “ We work towards helping them successfully take exams.
“(Schools) don’t abandon evaluation. They develop alternate ways.”
U of M disability services director Lynn Smith said the university urges students to come forward during the summer, present their documentation, and work out with staff just what kind of accommodation they’ll need.
“It could be from a medical doctor, or a specialist in the field, a clinical psychologist,” she said. “Some students may even pay for further assessment.”
Students may come out of high school with exam anxiety, Smith said. But a life event — health or social issues, a death in the family — may trigger anxiety or depression. “It can develop” over a semester.
“It can be stress that comes from another event,” said Smith.
Disability services tells a professor that it is accommodating a student, because the professor would then have to provide exam material, but the student’s personal and private health information would not be disclosed — no reason for the accommodation would be given to the professor. “ We have a high degree of protection,” she said.
“Some students are quite open about their disabilities,” Smith said. It is usually readily apparent to the entire class if a student is being accommodated for vision or hearing issues, through a note taker or interpreter, said Smith — they make up many of the 958 students that disability services accommodated last school year.
Walker said exam anxiety often gets worse the more critical the exam — scholarships on the line, entrance to a professional school, passing or failing.
“Comprehensives ( for doctoral candidates) are a good example — it’s do or die.”
Walker said his first goal is to help students be able to take their exam under normal conditions. “ We see people select university programs to minimize the number of exams.
“ They respond very well to treatment, often,” he said.
They can consider medication, but most people don’t want any.
Some people are suffering from depression, said Walker: “ They crash right before the exams.”
U of W offers workshops each year to help students deal emotionally with upcoming exams.
“ We do recognize anxiety as a disability,” said a U of W official.
But, she pointed out, while “Accommodations are in place to remove barriers students might face using traditional educational tools, they do not replace the expectation that they will have to demonstrate competency in the course material; the expectation to demonstrate knowledge is not waived.”